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A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World's Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  2,676 ratings  ·  284 reviews
Two maverick neuroscientists use the world's largest psychology experiment-the Internet-to study the private activities of millions of men and women around the world, unveiling a revolutionary and shocking new vision of human desire that overturns conventional thinking.

For his groundbreaking sexual research, Alfred Kinsey and his team interviewed 18,000 people, relying
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published May 5th 2011 by Dutton
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Mark Desrosiers
Jun 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: psycho-sociology, sex
"The world's largest experiment," as anyone who's encountered this book's hype machine knows well, is neither an experiment nor the world's largest anything. It is two neuroscientists trying to quantify and analyze online porn, and this breezy non-scientific book seems to have been written before they found out anything neurological. You can summarize their conclusions as follows:

(A) Men will shoot and fire at anything that gets them off, like Elmer Fudd, and women will analyze relationship pote
Apr 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
Haven't read it, won't read it. I was there when these jokers tried to mine Livejournal for 'facts' for this book through a thoroughly offensive, ethically corrupt survey (the questions of which changed constantly, rendering the data dubious to say the least) and exposed themselves as utterly clueless, patronizing, ignorant...I could go on.

A collection of links detailing what was known as 'Surveyfail' is here.

ETA: and here

The links to the posts on the authors'
I made it roughly a quarter of the way through before I called it a day. A pathetic and nauseating piece of so-called research. The data is shoddy, the conclusions are incredibly spurious and wildly over generalized and besides that...the writing is irritating as hell. Men are "proven" to be lusty buffoons and insatiable porn hounds, while women are portrayed as perpetually swooning twits who can't get enough of romance novels and Alpha Males (including murderers). They draw these "facts" from s ...more
Emma Sea
Jan 18, 2015 marked it as hell-no
ugh. Do you love the nice binary pink and blue opposition on the cover? /s

The reasons I will not be reading this book are here.
Jun 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
I was really excited when I heard the premise of this book, and to hear all the buzz about it. Indeed, there are things about it that I really like. The idea of using internet search data to get uncensored data about human sexual proclivities is intriguing, as is the fact that there is so much of that data available (largest-scale study since Kinsey, as the authors point out).

However, I'm dissatisfied. The authors spend a tremendous amount of time explaining already-familiar theories of human se
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: n-a
when I picked this book up there weren't a lot of reviews, the negative ones seemed less about the book and more about sex negative american protestantism. While midlevel reviews took the opinion that the book was a good attempt but didn't contain enough or wasn't interesting enough.

When I opened this book on my nook I could tell it wouldn't be an interesting book, the font which has always been standardly sized was suddenly smaller on this book. I don't mean the preferences changed I mean set
Alex Flynn
Nov 08, 2011 rated it liked it
At times fascinating at times infuriating always engaging. The book starts with an excellent premise, which is that the internet has opened up a world of data which can be mined by researchers, in this case neurologists, to examine heretofore unexplored aspects of the human psyche. I have not looked much into computational behavioral science but its seems like an area ripe for discovery. They utilize vast datasets, some from the AOL search data leak, to confirm and dispel theories on human sexua ...more
Mar 04, 2013 rated it liked it
If you read mainstream news stories about sexual behavior research, most of the 'revelations' in the book will seem pretty familiar, even warmed-over. To wit: men's physical and emotional arousal systems are closely aligned, and triggered by visual and other sensory input. Women's physical and emotional arousal systems are not so closely aligned, because evolutionary pressures have pushed them (over generations) to develop a finely-tuned set of cues to tell whether a potential lover will be good ...more
Jan 02, 2012 rated it liked it
My Kindle highlights:

In 2006, AOL released a data set containing the search histories for 657,426 different people. Each search history contains all the searches made by a particular AOL user over three months, from March 1, 2006, to May 31, 2006. For example, here’s the abbreviated search history for “Mr. Bikinis,” our name for user #2027268: college cheerleaders cheerleaders in Hawaii pics of bikinis and girls the sin of masturbation pretty girls in bikinis girls suntanning in bikinis college
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Those of you who are following along at home may recall our last selection on the "sex" theme--Bound and Gagged, Laura Kipnis' most excellent close reading of pornography. A Billion Wicked Thoughts approaches the question of desire from a totally different direction. Using their background in data mining and neuroscience, the authors look to hard (snicker) data from the Internet to figure out what it is that men (and women) really want. The data is both interesting and surprising, and the book i ...more
Molly Octopus
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book was certainly interesting, but there isn't sound evidence provided for any premise in the entire book; it's all speculation. The majority of 'evidence' that IS provided (and the basis for the title of this book) doesn't even really qualify as descriptive-- internet search histories aren't case studies. And scientific theories like the ones presented here need much more than case studies.

I would also like to note that I had issues with how the authors wrote about 'black' males and their
Jan 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, sexuality
The most interesting part of the book was the premise - how little research is done on sex and sexuality based mostly on our puritanical society. The book has nearly 100 pages of notes, many of which I wanted to track down. The actual book has some interesting information - I enjoy seeing the ranking of things searched for online in terms of porn (granny might be higher than you think). But as the book wore on I felt there were some conclusions being drawn that were a bit too pat and not represe ...more
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fascinating! Lots of great data driven information and an engaging, easy-reading writing style. I learned some great cocktail party facts.

However, I felt the discussion of romance novels was overly simplistic and cherry picked to make their point. Also, most of the novels they cited were 20 or more years out of date.

Overall, a gasp-out-loud interesting review of make and female sexuality.
Kelly Oakes
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Certainly this book of 416 fact filled pages isn't a "light" read, but more of an enlightning one. Never before has non-fiction literally grabbed hold of my mind and refused to leave it alone.

I guess you can compare reading a billion wicked thoughts to being present during the actual moment of a train wreck or better a tornado. Appearing seeminly out of nowhere, being swept away, taken on an amazing journey, safely deposited as a changed person and overwelmed with emotion from the things you've
Dec 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
I was extremely disappointed in this book. Looked forward to an interesting look at how internet searching could be used for behavior analysis in regards to sex. Not even close.
What this book is:
1. Description of what people are looking for in regards to sex.
2. Stories and anecdotes for those interested in Porn.
3. Lack of any scientific analysis. Lots of hypothesis, but no serious study to determine anything past observation.

In the end, if you are looking for a catalog of porn sites with anecdo
Marshall Cain
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
What an amazing read. I know there aren't many who want to sit around reading about the science behind porn consumption, but for those of you that do, this is going to be the book for you. It has colored my opinions on quite a few behaviors and issues, as well as giving me a deeper insight into friends, family, and strangers.

The world needs more research into what makes us work, and that includes our most intimate moments alone, or the things we hide in the dark. It is a shame these things are s
May 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
Authors use data mining on a large scale to try to better understand human sexual behavior. Despite vast amounts of data at their disposal, there's not much new here. One chapter reads like a recap of a recent book on romance novels. And there's the ethical considerations of using data derived from Internet searches without user consent. Authors claim it was all anonymous but one wonders. ...more
Vladimir Grigorov
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a very insightful book. It crushes my hope that I will ever fully understand my wife. At the same time it brings peace to me, because it is not that I'm not trying hard enough. The abyss between men and women is huge beyond imagination. A must read. ...more
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best non-fiction books I've read in a long time. Extremely well-researched and well-written. ...more
Sehar Moughal
Feb 05, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is a porn encyclopaedia; from hardcore porn explicitly produced for heterosexual/homosexual males to female porn that focuses on the 'psychological aspects' of the act itself (sexual act, of course). Contrary to the title, the main focus of this book is about MALE desire, which is supported by statistics such as no. of views per page, category, website etc. Examples of web search history for individuals are provided as evidence for authors' arguments. Throughout the book, the authors' ...more
Caterina Deforza
Oct 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Another book on the evolutionary biology of sexual impulses. Written by two neurologists with backgrounds in computer programming and statistics, this one takes the novel approach of data-mining the Internet to determine what the population is interested in...not necessarily what is out there to find, but what sexual interests web searches express. The methods are explained clearly and the writing is interesting without being overly complex. There are some new insights into the brain patterns of ...more
Heather Bond
Dec 05, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is a discussion about mostly hetero desire based on a statistical analysis of data collected on the internet. This book was published in 2011 so it is somewhat dated, no Fifty shades of Gray and Reddit.

Basically, men are Elmer Fudds, simple and myopically focused on shooting a wabbit, and women are Miss Marple detective agents sniffing out suitable suitors. Eh, if it sounds way over simplified, generalized, and sexist, that’s because it is. Basically evolutionary biology is sexist. Me
Oct 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Billion Wicked Thoughts, by Sai Gaddama and Ogi Ogas is interesting simply because it addresses taboo topics within the realm of sex. It is one of the first studies completed on human sexual desire since Kinsey, so I had to read it. The researchers teamed up with porn sites and internet search engines to analyze the most popular terms found in online erotica, porn, and search histories based upon the sociological descriptors of the searcher. The book didn't reveal anything terribly earth shatt ...more
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, queer
this was a really easy read for non-fiction. it was clever and funny, and really made all the science relatable. It's chock full of interesting info, but most of it i either have already heard from reading about the book or it's obvious. I knocked off a star for all the gender essentialism. I know the point of the book is how women and men think about sex (and have desire) differently, but it seemed like there was no room for variance. maybe it's just because there was a chapter on straight men ...more
Martin Crim
May 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
The authors have an extremely irritating extended metaphor, comparing male sexuality to Elmer Fudd and female sexuality to Miss Marple's Detective Agency. The Miss Marple metaphor in part tries to make lemonade out of the research showing that many straight women don't know what turns them on, although at least as reasonable an interpretation would be that such women are sexually disabled. The authors would have benefited from reading "Sex at Dawn," which would have challenged some of their ster ...more
Cardyn Brooks
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
A Billion Wicked Thoughts is more of a compilation of provocative thoughts and patterns than hard scientific conclusions based upon sifting through millions of search engine queries related to sexual content. It's worth reading even though only superficial acknowledgement is given to distinctions based on age, socio-economic class, nationality and geographic location. There are lots of blanket statements based on gender and sexual orientation that feel too rigid.

Variables generated by the uniqu
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Rather superficial.

Anonymous, casual sex is anathema in the romance novel.
The female brain splits conscious psychological arousal apart from unconscious physical arousal while the male brain unites them.
However, men are eminently capable of mentally partitioning sex and romance.

Marta Meana warns of oversimplifying the sexual psychology of women and men.
“We could find ourselves caricaturizing both male and female sexual desire with the former portrayed as an unshakable, appetitive drive with a n
30th book of 2016.

This book explores human sexuality by looking at large databases of both porn use (mostly by men - gay and straight) and romance writing (mostly by women for women).

The book does a good job of emphasizing how different the 'average' sexual responses for men and women are. I also found it fascinating how similar gay and straight porn is.

The does a poorer job of exploring various non-standard (?) kinks. Weirdly there is no (or very little) discussion of lesbianism.

The authors,
Jan 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Not too bad as a popular intro to ev-psych perspectives on sex, but there's nothing new here. The authors are sloppy researchers at best, and as writers, they are seriously in need of a better editor. Awkwardly, they often rely on quotations from celebrities, comedians, and even fictional characters to back up their points. Their theoretical framework is taken whole-cloth from Donald Symons, whose "Evolution of Human Sexuality" is a much better read than this, and covered all the same ground thi ...more
Thomas Hale
May 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Part evolutionary psychology, part statistical anaysis, part celebration of the weird recesses of human sexuality. I was slightly frustrated that Ogas and Gaddam went straight for the evo-psych when looking for the "why"s behind different kinks and fetishes, especially things like BDSM and other power-related sexual expression. Every few pages I wanted to stop them and insert some kind of sociological reasoning. Despite that, it's some excellent and wide-ranging research, and has plenty of laugh ...more
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Would love your feedback on my new book about human desire. 2 32 Dec 22, 2013 08:48AM  

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Ogi Jonathan Ogas (born ca. 1971) is an American computational neuroscientist, science book author, and game show contestant.

He received his PhD in computational neuroscience from Boston University, where he designed mathematical models of learning, memory, and vision. Ogi was a Department of Homeland Security Fellow and conducted biodefense research at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. He resides in Boston

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Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” So, this January, as we celebrate Martin Luther King...
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“The characters populating male fantasies have little in common with those inhabiting female fantasies. In porn, the mind of a woman is usually empty of all thought and feeling – except for an overwhelming urge to have sex with plumbers, pizza boys, and her BFF. Women’s hopes and fears are irrelevant. Their skills are inconsequential, except for the admirable ability to satisfy multiple lovers simultaneously and an impressive capacity for moaning. Their bodies, on the other hand, are depicted in lavish, graphic detail.

The heroes of romance novels often seem like members of a more evolved species. They are natural leaders, rich, powerful, and well-connected. Their minds are intelligent and savvy, though they are reticent about their abilities and hide their inner demons. Despite the fact that they are a five-star general or lord of southern England, they hide a troubled and tempestuous soul that can only be healed by the magical balm of a woman’s love.”
“Though social psychologist Elaine Hatfield is one of the nicest people you could ever meet, her life has been filled with controversy, mostly because of her independent streak. When she was a young professor at the University of Minnesota in 1963, there were two rules. Women were not allowed to hang their coats in the faculty cloak room. Women were not allowed to dine at the Faculty Club. One Monday evening, Hatfield decided to challenge the rules. She and fellow psychologist Ellen Berscheid approached the table where their male colleagues were sitting. When we walked into the Faculty Club and chorused: “May we sit down?” our six colleagues couldn’t have been more courtly. “Of course! Do sit down.” But, Colleague #1 glanced at his watch and declared, “Oh, do excuse me I have to run.” Colleague #2 shifted uneasily, then remembered that his wife was picking him up. Colleague #3 snatched up a dinner roll and said that he better walk out with his friend. The remaining men realized that they’d better be going, too. Within minutes Ellen and I were sitting alone at the elegant table, surrounded by six heaping plates. Shamed but undeterred, they kept returning to the Faculty Club until they finally obtained their own table. Eventually, Hatfield became a full professor at the University of Wisconsin, where she pioneered research into the psychology of falling in love. The” 2 likes
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